Posted by: Christine Johnson | March 28, 2011

It Never Fails

Every time people start talking about Global Warming Climate Change, the weather gets colder.

It is currently snowing.  In Southwest Virginia.  At the end of March.

Saturday was that stupid “Earth Hour” thing. Yesterday and today it has snowed.

Coincidence?

I think NOT!

(Extra bonus: Every evening hour is Earth Hour in North Korea!)

Satellite Image of Korea

Posted by: Christine Johnson | March 24, 2011

A Note to Pro-Lifers

I just got a call from Planned Parenthood a little while ago.  (Yeah, I left myself on their list on purpose.  Know thy enemy and all that.)  They weren’t asking for money, but they wanted to connect me to my senator’s office on their dime so I could tell them to not listen to crazy anti-choicers (no, he didn’t actually use that word) who don’t want their tax money going to an organization that covers up the sexual abuse of minors, colludes with sex traffickers, and is the largest provider of abortion in the country.  Call us crazy, but we just have a problem giving money to these people.

Anyway, Planned Parenthood is running scared and is committed to keeping their hands in our pockets and getting close to a million dollars a day from us.  Yes, you read that right.  Here, look at the actual number:

$1,000,000 each day.

That’s a lot of zeros.

Ten Weeks

But back to what you need to do as Pro Lifers:

Call those senators yourselves.  Send them e-mails.  Pester them so they know you don’t like that Planned Parenthood kills more unborn children than anyone else, that they pass out birth control to minors without parents’ knowledge or consent, that they work hard to skirt parental notifications laws, that they don’t report statutory rape, that they even have been known to give tips to pimps who are trafficking minor sex slaves … and that they also get nearly $1,000,000 a day from us, the taxpayers.  Tell them to defund Planned Parenthood!

For information on how to do that, head to NRLC.  More information on the drive to defund Planned Parenthood can be found at the Defund Planned Parenthood website.

 

Don’t delay! Make your voice heard!

Posted by: Christine Johnson | March 16, 2011

Good for Him!

President Obama and Vice-President Biden pay respects to Frank Buckles.

 

Posted by: Christine Johnson | February 27, 2011

Notes I Made While Reading Roe

For my seventh grader’s history this year, we have studied the Founding Documents and the three branches of government in the United States as we move past the War for Independence and into early American history.  Now that we’ve studied the three branches, we will take one week to discuss the Judicial Branch more in depth with a focus on Roe v. Wade, Justice Scalia, and what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about abortion. In preparation for this coming week, I’ve read several things about Roe, borrowed a couple of books from the library to help me get a grasp of it, and read the actual decision itself.

I told her that reading Roe broke my brain, and I’ll summarize why right now: in this decision, I see reaching, stretching, and mental gymnastics to eke out a right to privacy that would give constitutional cover for the killing of an unborn child while, at the same time, any hint that the unborn is a person is turned away without any thought whatsoever.  My notes that I’ll share below contain more information on the evidence I see.

I’ll say right up front that I’m not a lawyer, I’m not trained in law at all, and I am reading this completely as a layman.  I struggled to get into the actual decision and with the legal terminology at times.  My eyes were glazing over in the first three sections.  But once I got into the decision, that’s when I really felt like my brain was broken.  I’d read that it’s a rambling decision, that it’s a real stretch for Blackmun to come up with this right to privacy, that he was really looking for a reason to overturn from the get-go.  I honestly wondered if it was perhaps the people reading it (pro-lifers), even though I am staunchly pro-life myself.  I tried to just read the decision, knowing that I would never be completely neutral on the issue at hand.

So what follows are my margin notes on Roe.  I’ll copy and paste from the decision, then put my notes after each selection in red.  The text I used for the decision was found here, though since it’s a Supreme Court decision, you can obviously find it in a lot of places.  (I used that link because it had both the decision and the dissent, which I’m also planning on reading this weekend.  Fun for me, huh?)  Any underlining is my own emphasis.

We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy, of the vigorous opposing views, even among physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires. One’s philosophy, one’s experiences, one’s exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one’s religious training, one’s attitudes toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are all likely to influence and to color one’s thinking and conclusions about abortion.

In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem.

How do these things relate to whether or not it’s constitutional? Pollution & poverty??

Our task, of course, is to resolve the issue by constitutional measurement, free of emotion and of predilection. We seek earnestly to do this, and, because we do, we have inquired into, and in this opinion place some emphasis upon, medical and medical-legal history and what that history reveals about man’s attitudes toward the abortion procedure over the centuries. We bear in mind, too, Mr. Justice Holmes’ admonition in his now-vindicated dissent in Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 76 (1905):

Attitudes are not in the Constitution —> This already breaks w/ what he’s said they’re about to do.

Jane Roe, 4 a single woman who was residing in Dallas County, Texas, instituted this federal action in March 1970 against the District Attorney of the county. She sought a declaratory judgment that the Texas criminal abortion statutes were unconstitutional on their face, and an injunction restraining the defendant from enforcing the statutes.

From what I understand, Norma McCorvey actually was not aware of this case at first.  It was filed “on her behalf” and yet without her knowledge.  I could be remembering that incorrectly, and if so, please feel free to let me know; I’m recalling a story about it from her book Roe No More.

She claimed that the Texas statutes were unconstitutionally vague and that they abridged her right of personal privacy, protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. By an amendment to her complaint Roe purported to sue “on behalf of herself and all other women” similarly situated. …

…He alleged that, as a consequence, the statutes were vague and uncertain, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that they violated his own and his patients’ rights to privacy in the doctor-patient relationship and his own right to practice medicine, rights he claimed were guaranteed by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Wha…??? Here’s a summary I have of those amendments:

Amendment Ratified Description
1st 1791 Rights to Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, Petition
4th 1791 Search and Seizure
5th 1791 Grand Jury, Double Jeopardy, Self-Incrimination, Due Process
9th 1791 Non-Enumerated Rights
14th 1868 Protects rights against state infringements, defines citizenship, prohibits states from interfering with privileges and immunities, requires due process and equal protection, punishes states for denying vote, and disqualifies Confederate officials and debts

source

I’m not sure how it fits in with those amendments, with a possible exception for the Ninth; and yet, this view would give you unlimited rights under the Ninth Amendment.  My notes continue: Where did they get this idea from?

I’ll skip over notes I have about the Doe couple mentioned in the decision, since they were found to be without a standing for the case, except to say that their reasons for suing were perhaps some of the most selfish reasons I’ve seen. Just after this section, you can read about the couple who claimed that the wife had medical reason (a “neural-chemical” disorder) to avoid pregnancy, that she decided AFTER this to stop using birth control, and that she wanted to be able to have an abortion if she got pregnant. (Note: This is a different Doe than the one in the case Doe v. Bolton, which is mentioned in this decision and was to be read as a companion to Roe.)

The next section had some legal jargon that I did not completely understand, and so my notes on this were more of a question.  Again, if you understand this and can shed light on it for me, I’d be much obliged, and would be happy to update this post with the information.

III

It might have been preferable if the defendant, pursuant to our Rule 20, had presented to us a petition for certiorari before judgment in the Court of Appeals with respect to the granting of the plaintiffs’ prayer for declaratory relief. Our decisions in Mitchell v. Donovan, 398 U.S. 427 (1970), and Gunn v. University Committee, 399 U.S. 383 (1970), are to the effect that § 1253 does not authorize an appeal to this Court from the grant or denial of declaratory relief alone. We conclude, nevertheless, that those decisions do not foreclose our review of both the injunctive and the declaratory aspects of a case of this kind when it is properly here, as this one is, on appeal under § 1253 from specific denial of injunctive relief, and the arguments as to both aspects are necessarily identical. See Carter v. Jury Comm’n, 396 U.S. 320 (1970); Florida Lime Growers v. Jacobsen, 362 U.S. 73, 80-81 (1960). It would be destructive of time and energy for all concerned were we to rule otherwise. Cf. Doe v. Bolton, post, p. 179.

Does this say they should have proceeded differently, but SCOTUS accepted case ANYWAY? Sounds like Blackmun WANTED to rule in this way.

The usual rule in federal cases is that an actual controversy must exist at stages of appellate or certiorari review, and not simply at the date the action is initiated. United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36 (1950); Golden v. Zwickler, supra; SEC v. Medical Committee for Human Rights, 404 U.S. 403 (1972).

Usually all parts of case heard while conditions are same. Here, that’s impossible – allow for case anyway. (This makes sense, at least.)

After this are some underlinings when dealing with Dr. Hallford, who was also found to be without merit in the case. I’ll skip to the actual decision now, which begins in earnest in Part V.

V

The principal thrust of appellant’s attack on the Texas statutes is that they improperly invade a right, said to be possessed by the pregnant woman, to choose to terminate her pregnancy. Appellant would discover this right in the concept of personal “liberty” embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause; or in personal, marital, familial, and sexual privacy said to be protected by the Bill of Rights or its penumbras, see Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972); id., at 460 (WHITE, J., concurring in result); or among those rights reserved to the people by the Ninth Amendment, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S., at 486 (Goldberg, J., concurring). Before addressing this claim, we feel it desirable briefly to survey, in several aspects, the history of abortion, for such insight as that history may afford us, and then to examine the state purposes and interests behind the criminal abortion laws.

OK’ed because —> made sales of pill legal through Griswold. Next: (1) Look at abortion thru history (2) why did states outlaw it?

VI

It perhaps is not generally appreciated that the restrictive criminal abortion laws in effect in a majority of States today are of relatively recent vintage. Those laws, generally proscribing abortion or its attempt at any time during pregnancy except when necessary to preserve the pregnant woman’s life, are not of ancient or even of common-law origin. Instead, they derive from statutory changes effected, for the most part, in the latter half of the 19th century.

Country less than 200 years old & abortion laws more than 100? That’s recent?

1. Ancient attitudes. These are not capable of precise determination. We are told that at the time of the Persian Empire abortifacients were known and that criminal abortions were severely punished. 8 We are also told, however, that abortion was practiced in Greek times as well as in the Roman Era, 9 and that “it was resorted to without scruple.” 10

The Ephesian, Soranos, often described as the greatest of the ancient gynecologists, appears to have been generally opposed to Rome’s prevailing free-abortion practices. He found it necessary to think first of the life of the mother, and he resorted to abortion when, upon this standard, he felt the procedure advisable. 11 Greek and Roman law afforded little protection to the unborn. If abortion was prosecuted in some places, it seems to have been based on a concept of a violation of the father’s right to his offspring. Ancient religion did not bar abortion12

Judiasm did; Christianity did

2. The Hippocratic Oath. What then of the famous Oath that has stood so long as the ethical guide of the medical profession and that bears the name of the great Greek (460(?)-377(?) B. C.), who has been described as the Father of Medicine, the “wisest and the greatest practitioner of his art,” and the “most important and most complete medical personality of antiquity,” who dominated the medical schools of his time, and who typified the sum of the medical knowledge of the past? 13 The Oath varies somewhat according to the particular translation, but in any translation the content is clear: “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion,” 14 or “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.” 15

Hipocrates was against abortion!

Dr. Edelstein then concludes that the Oath originated in a group representing only a small segment of Greek opinion and that it certainly was not accepted by all ancient physicians. He points out that medical writings down to Galen (A. D. 130-200) “give evidence of the violation of almost every one of its injunctions.” 18 But with the end of antiquity a decided change took place. Resistance against suicide and against abortion became common. The Oath came to be popular. The emerging teachings of Christianity were in agreement with the Pythagorean ethic. The Oath “became the nucleus of all medical ethics” and “was applauded as the embodiment of truth.” Thus, suggests Dr. Edelstein, it is “a Pythagorean manifesto and not the expression of an absolute standard of medical conduct.” 19

Well, we found someone who agrees it’s no BFD for abortion, so let’s hurry up & more on! QUICK! Nothing to see here!

3. The common law. It is undisputed that at common law, abortion performed before “quickening” — the first recognizable movement of the fetus in utero, appearing usually from the 16th to the 18th week of pregnancy 20 — was not an indictable offense. 21 The absence of a common-law crime for pre-quickening abortion appears to have developed from a confluence of earlier philosophical, theological, and civil and canon law concepts of when life begins. These disciplines variously approached the question in terms of the point at which the embryo or fetus became “formed” or recognizably human, or in terms of when a “person” came into being, that is, infused with a “soul” or “animated.” A loose consensus evolved in early English law that these events occurred at some point between conception and live birth. 22 This was “mediate animation.” Although Christian theology and the canon law came to fix the point of animation at 40 days for a male and 80 days for a female, a view that persisted until the 19th century, there was otherwise little agreement about the precise time of formation or animation. There was agreement, however, that prior to this point the fetus was to be regarded as part of the mother, and its destruction, therefore, was not homicide. Due to continued uncertainty about the precise time when animation occurred, to the lack of any empirical basis for the 40-80-day view, and perhaps to Aquinas’ definition of movement as one of the two first principles of life, Bracton focused upon quickening as the critical point. The significance of quickening was echoed by later common-law scholars and found its way into the received common law in this country.

UNTRUE! Quickening was about the soul, not when abortion was OK – Church ALWAYS taught abortion is ALWAYS wrong.

In 1929, the Infant Life (Preservation) Act, 19 & 20 Geo. 5, c. 34, came into being. Its emphasis was upon the destruction of “the life of a child capable of being born alive.” It made a willful act performed with the necessary intent a felony. It contained a proviso that one was not to be found guilty of the offense “unless it is proved that the act which caused the death of the child was not done in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother.”

If abortion law is about mother’s health only, why the title of this law?    Common thread: saving mother was always OK!

Recently, Parliament enacted a new abortion law. This is the Abortion Act of 1967, 15 & 16 Eliz. 2, c. 87. The Act permits a licensed physician to perform an abortion where two other licensed physicians agree (a) “that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, or of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated,” or (b) “that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” The Act also provides that, in making this determination, “account may be taken of the pregnant woman’s actual or reasonably foreseeable environment.” It also permits a physician, without the concurrence of others, to terminate a pregnancy where he is of the good-faith opinion that the abortion “is immediately necessary to save the life or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.”

OK to kill disabled?  “mental health” –> very broad definition

Abortion before quickening was made a crime in that State [Connecticut] only in 1860.

Law catching up w science.

Gradually, in the middle and late 19th century the quickening distinction disappeared from the statutory law of most States and the degree of the offense and the penalties were increased.

Again, law catching up with science – never OK to kill baby.

An AMA Committee on Criminal Abortion was appointed in May 1857. It presented its report, 12 Trans. of the Am. Med. Assn. 73-78 (1859), to the Twelfth Annual Meeting. That report observed that the Committee had been appointed to investigate criminal abortion “with a view to its general suppression.” It deplored abortion and its frequency and it listed three causes of “this general demoralization”:

“The first of these causes is a wide-spread popular ignorance of the true character of the crime — a belief, even among mothers themselves, that the foetus is not alive till after the period of quickening.

“The second of the agents alluded to is the fact that the profession themselves are frequently supposed careless of foetal life . . . .

“The third reason of the frightful extent of this crime is found in the grave defects of our laws, both common and statute, as regards the independent and actual existence of the child before birth, as a living being. These errors, which are sufficient in most instances to prevent conviction, are based, and only based, upon mistaken and exploded medical dogmas. With strange inconsistency, the law fully acknowledges the foetus in utero and its inherent rights, for civil purposes; while personally and as criminally affected, it fails to recognize it, and to its life as yet denies all protection.” Id., at 75-76. The Committee then offered, and the Association adopted, resolutions protesting “against such unwarrantable destruction of human life,” calling upon state legislatures to revise their abortion laws, and requesting the cooperation of state medical societies “in pressing the subject.” Id., at 28, 78.

In 1871 a long and vivid report was submitted by the Committee on Criminal Abortion. It ended with the observation, “We had to deal with human life. In a matter of less importance we could entertain no compromise. An honest judge on the bench would call things by their proper names. We could do no less.”22 Trans. of the Am. Med. Assn. 258 (1871). It proffered resolutions, adopted by the Association, id., at 38-39, recommending, among other things, that it “be unlawful and unprofessional for any physician to induce abortion or premature labor, without the concurrent opinion of at least one respectable consulting physician, and then always with a view to the safety of the child

AMA asked for anti-abortion laws to protect the UNBORN CHILD

Except for periodic condemnation of the criminal abortionist, no further formal AMA action took place until 1967. In that year, the Committee on Human Reproduction urged the adoption of a stated policy of opposition to induced abortion, except when there is “documented medical evidence” of a threat to the health or life of the mother, or that the child “may be born with incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency,” or that a pregnancy “resulting from legally established statutory or forcible rape or incest may constitute a threat to the mental or physical health of the patient,” two other physicians “chosen because of their recognized professional competence have examined the patient and have concurred in writing, ” and the procedure “is performed in a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.” The providing of medical information by physicians to state legislatures in their consideration of legislation regarding therapeutic abortion was “to be considered consistent with the principles of ethics of the American Medical Association.” This recommendation was adopted by the House of Delegates. Proceedings of the AMA House of Delegates 40-51 (June 1967).

1967 – AMA changes position to proabortion – WIDE exceptions, including less-than-perfect babies

7. The position of the American Public Health Association. In October 1970, the Executive Board of the APHA adopted Standards for Abortion Services. These were five in number:

“a. Rapid and simple abortion referral must be readily available through state and local public health departments, medical societies, or other nonprofit organizations.

“b. An important function of counseling should be to simplify and expedite the provision of abortion services; it should not delay the obtaining of these services.

” c. Psychiatric consultation should not be mandatory. As in the case of other specialized medical services, psychiatric consultation should be sought for definite indications and not on a routine basis.

“d. A wide range of individuals from appropriately trained, sympathetic volunteers to highly skilled physicians may qualify as abortion counselors.

“e. Contraception and/or sterilization should be discussed with each abortion patient.” Recommended Standards for Abortion Services, 61 Am. J. Pub. Health 396 (1971).

Among factors pertinent to life and health risks associated with abortion were three that “are recognized as important”:

“a. the skill of the physician,

“b. the environment in which the abortion is performed, and above all

” c. the duration of pregnancy, as determined by uterine size and confirmed by menstrual history.” Id., at 397.

It was said that “a well-equipped hospital” offers more protection “to cope with unforeseen difficulties than an office or clinic without such resources. . . . The factor of gestational age is of overriding importance.” Thus, it was recommended that abortions in the second trimester and early abortions in the presence of existing medical complications be performed in hospitals as inpatient procedures. For pregnancies in the first trimester, abortion in the hospital with or without overnight stay “is probably the safest practice.” An abortion in an extramural facility, however, is an acceptable alternative “provided arrangements exist in advance to admit patients promptly if unforeseen complications develop.” Standards for an abortion facility were listed. It was said that at present abortions should be performed by physicians or osteopaths who are licensed to practice and who have “adequate training.” Id., at 398.

8. The position of the American Bar Association. At its meeting in February 1972 the ABA House of Delegates approved, with 17 opposing votes, the Uniform Abortion Act that had been drafted and approved the preceding August by the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. 58 A. B. A. J. 380 (1972). We set forth the Act in full in the margin. 40 The Conference has appended an enlightening Prefatory Note.41

I circled the footnotes (which you can find by clicking them here) for further reading.  Looking at this, I really felt like the whole list of items in section 7 were designed to streamline abortion and make it quicker to get with minimal thought to what effects it would have on the woman.  The second set (section 8 ) seem to stress that the best place for abortions is a hospital, though abortion clinics should have certain standards.  As I write this post, Virginia has just passed a bill regulating abortion clinics more strictly as outpatient medical facilities.  In light of the Gosnell case in Philadelphia, this cannot – and should not – be seen as anything less than a minimal good.  (The best, naturally, would be if we stopped killing unborn babies by the thousands every day.)

A second reason is concerned with abortion as a medical procedure. When most criminal abortion laws were first enacted, the procedure was a hazardous one for the woman. 43 This was particularly true prior to the development of antisepsis. Antiseptic techniques, of course, were based on discoveries by Lister, Pasteur, and others first announced in 1867, but were not generally accepted and employed until about the turn of the century. Abortion mortality was high. Even after 1900, and perhaps until as late as the development of antibiotics in the 1940’s, standard modern techniques such as dilation and curettage were not nearly so safe as they are today. Thus, it has been argued that a State’s real concern in enacting a criminal abortion law was to protect the pregnant woman, that is, to restrain her from submitting to a procedure that placed her life in serious jeopardy.

Pro-abortion side argued this – true reasons were to protect child.

The State has a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other medical procedure, is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient. This interest obviously extends at least to the performing physician and his staff, to the facilities involved, to the availability of after-care, and to adequate provision for any complication or emergency that might arise. The prevalence of high mortality rates at illegal “abortion mills” strengthens, rather than weakens, the State’s interest in regulating the conditions under which abortions are performed.…

This is pushed back against today (clinic regulations) – For an example, see how strongly Planned Parenthood fights against measures taken by states like Virginia, who simply want abortion clinics to have the same requirements as any other outpatient surgical facility.  (Make no mistake, those are students, but the signs are provided by Planned Parenthood.)

The third reason is the State’s interest — some phrase it in terms of duty — in protecting prenatal life. Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of conception. 45 The State’s interest and general obligation to protect life then extends, it is argued, to prenatal life. Only when the life of the pregnant mother herself is at stake, balanced against the life she carries within her, should the interest of the embryo or fetus not prevail. Logically, of course, a legitimate state interest in this area need not stand or fall on acceptance of the belief that life begins at conception or at some other point prior to live birth.

Theory? Scientific fact – inconsistent statements – See here for quotes from various sources on human life beginning at conception (meeting of a sperm and egg).

Parties challenging state abortion laws have sharply disputed in some courts the contention that a purpose of these laws, when enacted, was to protect prenatal life46 Pointing to the absence of legislative history to support the contention, they claim that most state laws were designed solely to protect the woman. …They claim that adoption of the “quickening” distinction through received common law and state statutes tacitly recognizes the greater health hazards inherent in late abortion and impliedly repudiates the theory that life begins at conception.

They deny that law was only mirroring the current science of the times.

The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy.

Well, that’s true, isn’t it?

This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.

VAGUE DEFINITIONS (Also not really Constitutional matters.  And how many families would be willing to adopt those children? Plenty.)

On the basis of elements such as these, appellant and some amici argue that the woman’s right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not agree. Appellant’s arguments that Texas either has no valid interest at all in regulating the abortion decision, or no interest strong enough to support any limitation upon the woman’s sole determination, are unpersuasive. The Court’s decisions recognizing a right of privacy also acknowledge that some state regulation in areas protected by that right is appropriate. As noted above, a State may properly assert important interests in safeguarding health, in maintaining medical standards, and in protecting potential life. At some point in pregnancy, these respective interests become sufficiently compelling to sustain regulation of the factors that govern the abortion decision. The privacy right involved, therefore, cannot be said to be absolute. In fact, it is not clear to us that the claim asserted by some amici that one has an unlimited right to do with one’s body as one pleases bears a close relationship to the right of privacy previously articulated in the Court’s decisions. The Court has refused to recognize an unlimited right of this kind in the past. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905) (vaccination); Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927) (sterilization).

We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.

But then in Doe they weaken states’ rights in this regard.

Although the results are divided, most of these courts have agreed that the right of privacy, however based, is broad enough to cover the abortion decision; that the right, nonetheless, is not absolute and is subject to some limitations; and that at some point the state interests as to protection of health, medical standards, and prenatal life, become dominant. We agree with this approach.  …

… In the recent abortion cases, cited above, courts have recognized these principles. Those striking down state laws have generally scrutinized the State’s interests in protecting health and potential life, and have concluded that neither interest justified broad limitations on the reasons for which a physician and his pregnant patient might decide that she should have an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. Courts sustaining state laws have held that the State’s determinations to protect health or prenatal life are dominant and constitutionally justifiable.  …

… Appellant, as has been indicated, claims an absolute right that bars any state imposition of criminal penalties in the area. Appellee argues that the State’s determination to recognize and protect prenatal life from and after conception constitutes a compelling state interest. As noted above, we do not agree fully with either formulation.

A. The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a “person” within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument. 51 On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument 52 that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

So look to penumbras for abortion/privacy rights, but don’t define unborn as human/person because it would automatically give him Constitutional rights.

The Constitution does not define “person” in so many words. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment contains three references to “person.” The first, in defining “citizens,” speaks of “persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

(This is where I started wanting to pull my hair out and scream!)

All this, together with our observation, supra, that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word “person,” as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn. 55

Because 19th Century science had not sufficiently influenced the laws of the time, we won’t consider unborn as persons – but Blacks weren’t Constitutionally defined as persons in the 18th Century!

Get ready for all caps screaming because the next statement made me lose it.

Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

HOLY CRAP – IT’S NOT HARD AND IS CENTRAL TO THE DECISION!!

It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth. This was the belief of the Stoics. 56 It appears to be the predominant, though not the unanimous, attitude of the Jewish faith. 57 It may be taken to represent also the position of a large segment of the Protestant community, insofar as that can be ascertained; organized groups that have taken a formal position on the abortion issue have generally regarded abortion as a matter for the conscience of the individual and her family. 58

Let’s look at beliefs and not science or we might need to face facts!  Or, if we look at science, look at outdated science!

Physicians and their scientific colleagues have regarded that event with less interest and have tended to focus either upon conception, upon live birth, or upon the interim point at which the fetus becomes “viable,” that is, potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid. 59 Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks60

This changes as medicine becomes better.

…  Substantial problems for precise definition of this view are posed, however, by new embryological data that purport to indicate that conception is a “process” over time, …

This is said only by those who would seek loosening of abortion laws!

Similarly, unborn children have been recognized as acquiring rights or interests by way of inheritance or other devolution of property, and have been represented by guardians ad litem. 66 Perfection of the interests involved, again, has generally been contingent upon live birth. In short, the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t persons with basic right to life and security of person (14th Amendment). (Remember that at one point, the Supreme Court decided that Blacks weren’t persons, either.)

Measured against these standards, Art. 1196 of the Texas Penal Code, in restricting legal abortions to those “procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother,” sweeps too broadly. The statute makes no distinction between abortions performed early in pregnancy and those performed later, and it limits to a single reason, “saving” the mother’s life, the legal justification for the procedure. The statute, therefore, cannot survive the constitutional attack made upon it here.  …

In Doe v. Bolton, post, p. 179, procedural requirements contained in one of the modern abortion statutes are considered. That opinion and this one, of course, are to be read together67

Roe gives OK for some laws, but Doe weakens these limitations to the point that they’re useless (see highlight below).

This holding, we feel, is consistent with the relative weights of the respective interests involved, with the lessons and examples of medical and legal history, with the lenity of the common law, and with the demands of the profound problems of the present day. The decision leaves the State free to place increasing restrictions on abortion as the period of pregnancy lengthens, so long as those restrictions are tailored to the recognized state interests.

…  Our conclusion that Art. 1196 is unconstitutional means, of course, that the Texas abortion statutes, as a unit, must fall.

And there goes the abortion restrictions in every state of the Union. I looked at the actual statues, and, contrary to the freak-out arguments of the pro abortion crowd, there were no penalties given to the woman seeking an abortion.  All penalties were given to doctors.  In addition, if you read the footnotes, you’ll see that Texas argued that the reasons for their laws against abortion were to protect the life of the unborn child.  This was swept aside by the Court, who insisted that the states had no idea why they wrote the laws they wrote.  The Court insisted that the laws were not for protecting the unborn child, but to protect women from unsafe abortions.

Since this decision, we’ve also seen a movement to redefine conception and try to make implantation the beginning of pregnancy.  Anyone with a very basic education in biology knows this is patently untrue.  But to reduce feelings of guilt, perhaps, we see medical dictionaries changing their definitions for conception to be that of implantation.  Such actions are deplorable.

Also deplorable are attempts to pin pro abortion attitudes on the Catholic Church by bringing up ideas of “quickening.”  This entire argument brings up a red herring.  Quickening was our way of theorizing on when God ensouled a person, not when they existed.  If you do some research on early Christian writings, you can find that the Didache, a First-Century Catechism of sorts, has this to say about abortion:

“The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child” (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 70]).

Notice that there is no mention of early abortions being okay.  There is no mention of quickening.  All there is, is a direct condemnation of abortion, period.

It’s going to be an interesting week for my seventh grader and I as we look over Roe and the consequences of it.  (Really, a good place to start might be Griswold and its invention of the right to privacy, but we’ll leave that for a future study.)

Posted by: Christine Johnson | January 11, 2011

Incivility Reigns

Older Images of Hate

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the incivility and hatred that seems to go back and forth between conservatives and liberal, Republicans and Democrats, Right and Left.  It seems to be at a fever-pitch, even coming into play after the tragic events in Tuscon last weekend.  While most people don’t involve themselves in this incivility and hatred, there were still a noisy minority who, after six people were murdered by a clearly disturbed young man who is suffering from some kind of mental breakdown, insisted that politics were to blame.  And, most specifically, politics from Republicans and the Tea Party.

Most people knew this was not so, and very few people – even on the left – believe it.  But the new media, which is touted often by the Right as a way to be heard, is not picky about who is heard.  There are some people in both new and old media who delightedly engaged in a kind of schadenfreude, pointing fingers at anyone they disagree with politically so as to lay the blame somewhere.  But the real blame isn’t someone or some political movement.  The real blame here is mental illness.  After all, even without looking at YouTube or MySpace or his raving letter, anyone can tell you that shooting a 9 year old child  isn’t a part of any sane person’s political activism.  Christina-Taylor Green did nothing except be a bright, happy child.

Why insist on fitting this into a political ideology?  George Will has an excellent column that explores one idea.  He writes:

A characteristic of many contemporary minds is susceptibility to the superstition that all behavior can be traced to some diagnosable frame of mind that is a product of promptings from the social environment. From which flows a political doctrine: Given clever social engineering, society and people can be perfected. This supposedly is the path to progress. It actually is the crux of progressivism. And it is why there is a reflex to blame conservatives first.

It Comes from Both Sides

He does say that even after JFK’s assassination, there were those who tried to pin the blame on someone from a political viewpoint.  I wasn’t around then, so I don’t know.  And maybe there was, even then, a great animosity between Left and Right, Democrats and Republicans.

In this article from 2009, Jeff Jacoby bemoaned the same things:

But in our political discourse since 2000, malice has become ubiquitous. George W. Bush’s critics endlessly compared him to Adolf Hitler. Radio host Glenn Beck mused on-air about “killing [filmmaker] Michael Moore.” Sandra Bernhard ranted that Sarah Palin was a “whore” to be “gang-raped.” Televangelist Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill characterized the 9/11 victims who died at the World Trade Center as guilty “little Eichmanns.” From Michael Savage on MSNBC urging a gay caller to “get AIDS and die, you pig,” to the banner at a San Francisco peace march proclaiming “We support our troops when they shoot their officers,” there seems to be no limit to the venom and coarseness that mark contemporary political culture.

But was it always so … mainstream? Was it constantly being fed by the news and by the leaders of the political parties?

Has there always been a tendency to make everything political?

How Could You Hate WALL-E?

I have a family member, whom I love dearly, who is very conservative.  Very loyal to the GOP, even when they go and try to be less conservative.  He believes that if the GOP is broken, it shouldn’t be thrown away, but fixed from within.  But everything he sees, he sees through the lens of his politics.  There are others in my family, people he’s related to by marriage to my cousin, who are dyed in the wool Democrats.  Really liberal.  Pro-choice, stumping for Howard Dean, moving to liberal states on purpose, the farther Left the better.  And he cannot put aside his worldview to associate with them.  At all.  He won’t see WALL-E because he heard that it’s too liberal.

And so he misses out on things – important things, fun things – in order not to have his political sensibilities offended.  It’s sad.

So maybe this forced division has been there.  But it seems so prevalent now.  So acceptable.  We’re expected to be hotly divided.  We’re expected to have problems when we go to the polls.  We’re expected to hate the other party and not let them get credit for anything good whatsoever.

WHY?  How did this become acceptable?

This is what I’ve been thinking about lately.  And I have been trying to pinpoint a time when I first saw it.  I wasn’t especially politically active until the mid-90’s.  Considering I’m only 40, I’d say that’s not bad.  I was in my early-to-mid-20’s when I started paying attention to politics.  I’d stay up to watch election returns for president, beginning with George H. W. Bush’s failed re-election campaign.

Do It Until You Get It Right!

And then came the 2000 elections.  I was living in Seminole County, Florida, at the time.  We were a very conservative county, and we watched as they counted, then recounted, then re-recounted our states ballots.  Each time, Vice President Gore would cry out That can’t be right! Do it again!

And they’d start in again, but only in certain places where it was thought more Democratic votes could be “found.”

It was a relief when the Supreme Court put a stop to that nonsense.

But I think real damage was done by that action.  The refusal to be a graceful loser, a good sport.

In that moment, Al Gore made it more acceptable to be belligerent in politics.  It became more acceptable to dig in your heels and not give an inch, even when you’re proven wrong.

Even when the people have spoken and they tell you NO.

Maybe someone else can set me right, but I see the fast decline of civility in politics of the last 10 years going back to that point in time: when the vice-president let us know by his actions that he cared more for his own power than his country.  And he was aided and abetted by the mainstream press, who told us all That’s okay.  You’re allowed to act this way.  And then they gave voice not only to Gore, but to every other person who grasped at the same idea that incivility was acceptable, if only you have good intentions.  It’s okay not to listen to others or concede that you might be wrong, just so long as you intend to do something good in the end.  Because we all know that the end justifies the means, right?

The End Justifies the Means?

But the road to Hell is paved with such intentions.  And good – real good – cannot be done through evil deeds.

Our political system might be broken right now, but it’s not irrevocably so.  We can fix it, with hard work.  We must reward those who remain civil, and push aside those who wish to allow incivility to reign.  We must elect those who listen to us, and get those who refuse to do so – even out of their ideas that they know better than we do – out of office.

But, in the meantime, we need to figure a way to keep this incivility from infecting another generation.  We need to teach people how to love and how to be humble.  Because a person with genuine humility won’t fall prey to this kind of infection.

Pray for our country and her leaders.  Pray that God will open their hearts to His message and His will.

Posted by: Christine Johnson | January 5, 2011

Bravery?

The National Catholic Reporter has named someone as a “Person of the Year” for the first time.  They’ve chosen a nun who defied bishops and made excuses for a Catholic hospital that performed an illicit abortion.

First, she claimed that the Health Care Reform Bill was something Catholics could support without any problem, something that the bishops unanimously agreed was not so.  The HCR funds abortion, period.  But now, she’s really popular with Catholics who don’t know or understand their faith and the teachings of the Church because she is trying to justify a formerly-Catholic hospital performing an abortion on a healthy baby because the mother had a condition that was not life-threatening.  (Hypertension is treatable during pregnancy and only life-threatening if you don’t do something about it.)

NCR claims that the nun in question demonstrated bravery, but real bravery is standing for right, even when conventional wisdom says you’re wrong.  Even when modern morals (if you can call them that) say that killing a healthy unborn child is acceptable.  What would have been brave was if the hospital (and the nuns) in question had stood up for the Catholic teachings they are supposed to uphold instead of caving to pressures from modern society.

That’s real bravery.

So, the hospital in question – Saint Joseph’s – has been stripped of it’s Catholic designation.  This is not something Bishop Olmsted did lightly or even quickly.  He’d been working for years to rectify the situation and bring the hospital in line with the teachings of the Church.

My question is this:

Can the same be done to National Catholic Reporter?  They are pretty adamant that abortion is okay, from what I’ve seen, and they seem to thrive on making excuses for Catholics who won’t follow the Church’s teachings.  (If you are a devout Catholic, you don’t even want to poke around the site, lest you start having palpitations.  They like defending people who say things like “In other words, Jesus’ divine sonship — his filial relationship to the Father — is defined in terms of his obedience to God and his role as the Suffering Servant, and not in terms of his eternal pre-existence in God as the Logos. …”  Yes, you read that right; he’s saying Jesus is not Eternal.  Maybe he should read John’s Gospel more carefully.)

Faithful Catholics looking for news would do better to keep up with the National Catholic Register, which prides itself on its fidelity to the Magisterium.

[image source]

Posted by: Christine Johnson | January 4, 2011

Moving and Starting Anew

I started writing at Blogger years ago, but since I’ve been hit with mega-spam in comments, I’m closing the comments there and I’ve moved the blog here, to WordPress.  Not sure exactly how it worked, moving over nearly 2000 blog posts and all the comments that were there, too, but … tah-dah!  Here I am.  Hope you like my new digs.

Posted by: Christine Johnson | April 15, 2010

In Honor of Tax Day

http://www.youtube.com/v/_0M__0Z1pjg&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00&border=1

Posted by: Christine Johnson | April 8, 2010

Quote of the Day: We’ve Seen This Before


“…The great Puritan lords created the Commonwealth, and destroyed the common land. They saved their poorer countrymen from the disgrace of paying Ship Money by taking from them the plow money and spade money which they were doubtless too weak to guard. A fine old English rhyme has immortalized this easy aristocratic habit —

You Prosecute the man or woman

Who steals the goose from off the common,

But leave the larger felon loose

Who steals the common from the goose.

But here, as in the case of the monasteries, we confront the strange problem of submission. If they stole the common from the goose, one can only say that he was a great goose to stand it. The truth is that they reasoned with the goose; they explained to him that all this was needed to get the Stuart fox over seas. So in the nineteenth century the great nobles who became mine-owners and railway directors earnestly assured everybody that they did not do this from preference, but owing to a newly discovered Economic Law. So the prosperous politicians of our own generation introduce bills to preven tpoor mothers from going about with their own babies; or they calmly forbid their tenants to drink beer in public inns. But this insolence is not (as you would suppose) howled at by everybody as outrageous feudalism. It is gently rebuked as Socialism. For an aristocracy is always progressive; it is a form of going the pace. Their parties grow later and later at night; for they are trying to live to-morrow.”
-G. K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World, pp. 56-57, © 1910 and reprinted by Ignatius Press in 1994
Posted by: Christine Johnson | March 29, 2010

Remember Schoolhouse Rock?

Here’s an update to how a bill becomes a law.

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